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Dominga Sotomayor Castillo
Late in 2001, tough economic times in Buenos Aires mean that Beba, a slim, blond, and privileged divorcée, has no money to pay Dora, a doughy, nearly-silent maid who has lived with her for almost 30 years. Dora breaths in her dignity and resigns. She wants to finish work on her own house, with her less than reliable mate, Miguel. She also looks for a new job. Beba asks her ex-husband for financial help. He demurs. Can Beba adjust to new realities, find a way to pay Dora, and honor her lifetime of service, and can either make a life without the other? Does sisterhood cross class lines? Written by
With startling realism, Jorge Gaggero's film delves into the delicate relationship between employee and employer. Due to an incredible pair of professional and non-professional actors, a modern story of class struggle is told with very few bells and whistles beyond the brilliant acting. Set in Buenos Aires during the financial crisis of 2001, this film examined the idea of what happens when economic hardships level the playing field between the affluent and the working class. An understated teeter-totter of tension and tenderness is always present in the interactions of Beba Pujol (Norma Aleandro) and her maid, Dora (Norma Argentina). Without speaking a word, it's obvious that both women come from very different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. European- looking Beba can barely exist without the help of a hard-working maid who was selected by the director for her more stereotypically indigenous looks. The existence of this tension and class division is very much a living issue that's broached with tact, maybe even a little comedy, by the filmmaker. Although the dialogue was as subtle as the plot, the film captured the emotions of both protagonists so beautifully that there is never a misunderstanding about what's going on. Even in moments of silence, a look or gesture speaks a thousand words. Hand-held cameras, natural lighting, and a noticeable absence of soundtrack succeed in allowing the audience to forget that they're watching a film, and instead, simply watch two women. Norma Argentina, who was a maid for twenty years before venturing into acting, plays this role with an honesty of emotion that is hypnotizing. While extremely thought-provoking, this movie isn't appropriate for someone who wants a definitive ending or specific message. If you're willing to sacrifice a little excitement in exchange for a masterpiece of nuance and character study, Live-in Maid is a real treat.
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